#RainbowPoppy might be trending, but does an LGBT poppy really exist?

CBC Kids News • Published 2019-11-07 15:54

More likely to find a #RainbowPoppy on social media than in real life

A debate has been raging on Twitter over the past few days about whether it’s appropriate to make, sell or wear a Remembrance Day poppy in rainbow colours.

Thing is, rainbow poppies aren’t even readily available.

The whole conversation seems to have been sparked by an eBay ad, originally posted on July 15, for a “rainbow glittery poppy style badge.”

The U.K.-based seller, who goes by the username vaikona has since taken the listing down, but not before adding a note at the bottom asking people to stop sending “vile and rude messages.”

Although it’s unclear what the seller’s original intentions were, some people in the Twitterverse seem to think the rainbow poppy represents LGBT veterans.

And while some people love that idea, others don’t like it at all.

Tweet from Amber says I get 100 per cent that there was LGBTQ+ soldiers, but the red poppy means something important. It's inclusive of all soldiers. There's no need to add a rainbow one.

Tweet from Noah says It is disgraceful that some are trying to change the poppy to a rainbow colour. The red poppy represents all of our soldiers, gay or not.

This isn’t the first time the idea of a rainbow poppy has come up.

In 2016, Trudy Howson, who is currently serving her last year as U.K.’s poet laureate, launched a campaign to honour LGBT soldiers.

Every year at this time, she shares an image of a red poppy with a hint of rainbow colours on one of its petals.

Tweet from LGBT poet laureate says This is the time we honour our brave soldiers who, despite being criminalized for their sexuality, bravely supported their comrades and country.

In Canada, an organization called the Royal Canadian Legion has trademarked the poppy as a symbol to remember veterans’ sacrifices.

And that poppy comes in only one colour — red.

The red poppy represents veterans from all backgrounds, said Legion spokesperson Nujma Bond in an email.

"We do not distinguish between particular groups of veterans," she said, "and ask that Canadians please respect this tradition."

Other colours

Still, other colours do seem to pop up each year, including:

At this point, rainbow poppies are much harder to find.

That said, the latest controversy might just boost demand.

Tweet from David Robson says there are many different variations on the poppy to show respect for those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom in war. By the reactions on social media, clearly LGBT lives aren't worth that same respect.

Even if the rainbow poppy were to become more readily available, the vice-chair of a non-profit group that represents Canadian LGBT veterans called Rainbow Veterans of Canada said he's sticking with the red poppy.

In an email, Todd Ross said he and his members "completely agree" with the Legion's position that the red poppy represents everyone.

Another twist

Here’s one more strange twist to add to the #RainbowPoppy thread.

A story was circulating on Twitter this week that suggested a student at a high school in Stonewall, Man., was suspended for refusing to wear a rainbow poppy.

A statement from the Interlake School Division, released on Nov. 7, referred to it as “misinformation which has been widely spread on social media.”

The statement said at no point did any staff member insist that students wear rainbow poppies.

Get your class on the same page, add this to
Google Classroom

Do you like this story?